tv Tavis Smiley WHUT July 11, 2011 8:30am-9:00am EDT
tavis: good evening from los angeles. first up a conversation with actor and producer don cheadle. this is shaping up to be a busy year for him. in addition to "the guard," he is the star and producer of a showtime series. he signed a deal with showtime for future projects. we will preview our upcoming week devoted to china. i travel to china for a series of conversations about the many complex issues facing the most populous nation. we will stop the week one week from tonight with a panel of chinese americans including john chan. we're glad you joined us.
coming up right now. >> every community has martin luther king boulevard. it is the cornerstone we know. it is not just a street but a place where wal-mart start -- stands with your community to make everyday matter. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. we're proud to join him in ialiteracy literacy. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: always pleased to welcome
don cheadle to the program. the star can be seen in the forthcoming summit "the guard." he can also be seen in the showtime series "house of lies," a comedy about the world of business consulting. here is a scene from that show. >> are you going to help your not? -- me or not? have you ever been shot before it? >> yes. >> did it hurt? >> no, it did not her. yes intered! -- it hurt! >> they say shocked cataracts
pain. >> who says that? it hurts like hell. to talk about all the projects you have to go -- you have going on. good to see you. tell me more. >> "the guard" is a movie we did in ireland. brendan gleeson placocopco who . it was a fish out of water story for me. and it fell like outer space. tavis: >> you are really stretching the metaphor now. >> my character does not know they speak gaelic. it is a whole different world. tavis: you also produce the film. >> we tried to help get the thing made. it is a small film. often when you have movies like
this you have to do whatever you can to champion it to get it going. tavis: of talk more about the producing in just a second. one looks at your career to directory -- trajectory. the have not all been blockbusters. you have put your name and heart behind a lot of small projects. why and how did you choose to make those decisions? >> it is usually just whatever hits me. when i read a script and i am laughing from the first page and i cannot anticipate what is going to happen next, i am a long for the ride. i feel like an audience member. hopefully an audience will have a similar experience. then i have to go down the other checklist of where, when, how long, who is in bed? all that stuff. there are more positives and
negatives, i say yes. tavis: why work so hard where producing and storing is concerned? it seems the easiest thing to do would do -- to do the big blockbusters. >> it is something that looks like that from the outside than it actually is. with the reduction of oscillates from all studios, movies are harder and harder to get made every year. they are less and less prominent. especially parts for me. you could sit back and wait for somebody to hand you something. those things happen every once in a while. but when you see a movie like this that this special and interesting, this had to come from outside. you have to get behind a project like that to make happen. tavis: that is a loaded statement, parts for me. unpack that. >> when there are less parts in general, there are less parts
for people who gets less parts anyway. [laughter] it is less sales, less roles. you have to hustle. it is a grind. tavis: at this point, are you looking for high-quality material? there is a comedic elements to it. are you in that vein? or it turns out that the things we're talking about, you can do comedy as well? >> i have 0 is done both. it is just the dramatic roles have made more noise and caught on more. i started doing stand-up. it is something i have always wanted to get more back into. i had an opportunity with this some to do that. i love comedies. they are harder to do and pilaf but when you do, it is important. tavis: talk about the showtime
series. i have read -- been reading about it. >> it is called "house of lies." i play a management consultant. people ask, what is that? that is a good question. it is not never clearly defined. consulting is whatever you needed to be. [laughter] when the company calls and says you need help, you say how can i help you. that is what they do. it tends to prevaricate a little bit. tavis: at this point, your prefer, you have to see how long it is going to be filming, how much of those kinds of decisions push you toward or away from doing episodic television or you can stay home into the thing on showtime? >> this was a perfect marriage. it is a showtime piece. it is not 24 episodes.
it is 12. it is down the street from where i live. i get to be home. it is a half-hour show. it is not such heavy lifting. it is comedy. i have been blesi have been for. things that i need at certain times 10 to happen for me. i have two teenage daughters. they may want me to be away. but i want to be here. tavis: some college blessing, some college -- call it, whatever you call it, how much of a successful career, is dependent upon -- >> there's a lot of right time, right place kind of stuff. i went to cal arts. i came out of that program of a lot of actors.
a lot of talented actors. people that could do whatever it is i am doing. the business is tricky. you have to diversify your slate. you have to do a lot of things. that is why started the production company. i did not just want to wait for the right thing to come along. if i see something that has potential, i want to work it and pull it together and get cash and higher whoever i have to make it go. if that happens four 5 cents, i do not care. of i can say that is something i'm proud of, i am glad i made that. tavis: but you also have to make a living. >> that hand or blessing or luck, i have been able to eat from both of those areas. "iron man" and now i do "talk to me."
i get to have a bifurcated experience which allows me to do both of those things. tavis: "talk to me" is one of my favorites. for those watching right now, that you have to do your own thing and produce from projects, a lot easier than said than done. for those who say don cheadle this to do his own projects because he was in those blockbusters, then i could do that as well. >> i think it is the truth. another thing that we try to focus on is writing. some an actor say, how can i get in the business? i say, do you write? write for yourself. taking a wring class. steady. the tools at our disposal, it was not that way 10 years ago. there is equipment we can get. there are ways you can shoot your own film for a lot less
than was possible before. does that mean you'll get a deal? >> but that could be a calling card. that is your ability to show you can do that you do not have to wait for somebody to give you the opportunity. now you can start to generate heat. you compare stuff up on youtube and get that -- get stuff going on the internet and circumvent the other process. it is tricky from every corridor. those of us who are fortunate enough to get in when movies were movies and before this whole financial situation, the core position of the studios, we are fortunate. for others, waiting around for something to happen is a death now. you have to hustle. tavis: because the business is so formulaic, because it is difficult to get things done,
and because the slate are shrinking, can don cheadle imagine a time or the difficulty of doing what you were born to do is so high that you say, i'm out. i'm done. >> me personally? you do not retire from the business. the business retires you. [laughter] tavis: and you do not see it coming. >> know, you hear it on the radio. even when it is not, this film we were fortunate enough to find a script we liked. brandon was available. i was available. we connected with different entities. the landed some council came in. a lot of people came together and made this thing go. we were still up against it. it was not a luxury schedule. we did not have a lot of --
things had to work. craft services was whatever you brought. [laughter] you brought a salad. dwich. whi those are the ones i love the most. you are there because you believe in that project and you see something special. you all get this bunker mentality and lock arms and say, let's make this thing. that is when you start. that is the jews to have. juice you have. tavis: it is summertime now. typically the time of year people get to travel. ho rewarding for your life,
being able to travel and some in some and places. what has that meant? >> that is another experience we get as actors that we get to experience the world. we usually against two -- did to do it in a sheltered way. you venture out way have a day off or whatever. but usually have a great for that. the people who are there take you to their families house and this mountain area. let me take you to this valley. those experiences have been a valuable to me. i have been able to share the majority of them with my family. my kids have seen everything. my wife has gone where i've gone. that is something you cannot quantify. it has made my kids understand what we have. they have been child soldier camps.
they have pretty good ideas about where they stand in the world and what really means what. that is an experience that this industry has given them that i do not think i could have done on my on. tavis: your humanitarian work continues. >> we tried to be involved in these things. it can be frustrating. you feel like you take two steps back -- two steps forward and three steps back. we're looking at the north-south agreement in the sudan. it could potentially, bat -- apart. we were celebrating when the vote came through. he said he would honor it. but then weeks later, we're back to soldiers on borders. clashes in border towns. refugee camps being overrun. a specific incidents of ethnic cleansing.
we try to ring the bell and support those people that are focused. but it is difficult. we need help from our government. we need help from secondary powers. people who can make things happen. tavis: how frustrating is it when, as an actor, when you have run that bell consistently than even elected officials, how frustrating is it for you to care about something so deeply and to see people in your own congress and body politick, your own white house, that do not seem to be as concerned about these issues, especially where ethnic cleansing is concerned as you are? >> to our defense, i think america is doing more about it than any of the countries around
the world. maybe with the exception of france. you feel like you bang your head against the wall. what else can be done? there was a u.s. convoy when i first got a ball. then they appointed one. that did not work out. now the ambassador susan rice is involved in negotiations over there. it seems like without a boon to be gained, it is just humanitarian, countries are not incentivized to get involved or risk their soldiers. not that i think that the solution is us innovating a muslim country or somehow trying to overthrow government or insert our politics in a sovereign nation, i think our involvement hasted be at a
level that is more robust and consistent to make sure the agreement said these countries have made are honored. we have done it before. there is a handbook for. we need to be a part of another coalition. it is hard to raise that when people and not taking oil or minerals or gold. what is there to be gained other than saving lives? tavis: you are an actor-vist. --i've heard and read black i am a black-tivist. tavis: i had not heard that before. when you get a product that talks about humanity, it connects with people. i get how actors connect with
issues around the globe. the question is, why is it, or are you hopeful about the world, that you do all of that inde? >> i tried to be hopeful because i have children. we have these discussions that we're having now because they have seen all the things that i've seen. i've taken them to all of these places. we have these discussions. they're mostly about the environment and where we're headed. we just got back from mexico couple of days ago. we report to vallarta -- puerta vallarta. there are not that many fish. my daughter wants to be a marine biologist. he said the coral is dead because the chinese fishermen
pay the mexican fisherman to take the sharks out because of a shark fin soup. the sharks bp. fish so they go crazy and the of the coral so the coral betting is that. there are no fish. we're swimming around the bed and it is dead. how do you answer yourself in that? my daughter wants to do that because she wants to be a marine biologist. she is a vegetarian. she is serious. you look at that and think there are others who will grow up and make this their calling. you feel like, are we too late? have we missed that window where we can step back from a precipices and knocks over the edge. i do not know. if you listen to the science, it is a little late. when united nations says that they want me to be environmental
massacre, you say yes. i will try to make noise. i will go on the tavis smiley show. i tried to be helpful. tavis: a great actor and a better man. an upcoming showtime series and a new deal with showtime to produce other projects. whenever he wants to do. good to have the wind. i appreciate you. up next, a preview of our week devoted to china. it starts monday. we will explain it for you in just a moment. stay with us. i hope you will join us for an entire week devoted to china. i traveled there with a camera crew and a group of colleagues including cornell west. over the first of four nights we will look at the issues and the
challenges facing china and the ideas and people who will shape china for the rest of the century and beyond. on friday, we will have a high- profile panel of chinese americans for a conversation about china and its place in the world. our guests include john chan. we met and spoke with some extraordinary people but probably the most moving encounter was when we got a chance to meet my your workers and their kids. we hear a lot about the economic boom. everywhere you look you see evidence of that. china is not just a country of haves but also have-nots. we will show you a school that is accepting some of migrant workers as well. it gives us an insight into how these families live. the school also focuses on dance
and music. we were treated to some remarkable performances. ♪ tavis: we wanted to see where the students lived. just a few years ago, the government would never have let us take the cameras to away workers' compound. some restrictions are lifting. doctor west and i encountered something unsettling and inspiring. >> these houses are built by farmers.
they're minimal houses and then they rent than to the migrant workers. -- them to the migrant workers. [speaking chinese] tavis: this is their home? this room. he works in a crystal factory. but this is their home. this room. >> these are all his accomplishments. his certificates. these are his prize. this is a proud product. >> this young brother here. yes, yes, yes.
tavis: his accomplishments are the wallpaper. >> exactly. tavis: decorating the house with his accomplishments in school. i will hope you will join a starting monday for week in china. you cannot pick up a newspaper without seeing evidence of how vital china is to the world. each nine next week will explore the people and e issues facing this nation. that is our show for tonight. we will see you here next time for night one for china. as always, keep the faith. captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- >> for more information, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: join me next time as we kick offan a lookit china's role in the tack room. we will see you then. >> every community has and
martin luther king boulevard. it is the cornerstone we know. it is not just a street but a place where wal-mart stands together with your community. make everyday better. >> nationwide support tavis smiley. nationwide insurance is pot -- proud to join him in reducing financial -- >> and by contributions to your pbs station thank you.